November 13th, 2009


I’m going to let y’all in on a little secret: I am a tad neurotic. Perhaps more than a tad; maybe a wee bit. A smidgen? Let’s just say I have no doubts as to which side of the family my son’s obsessive-compulsive tendencies came from. To give you an idea, here is a picture of my spice drawer.


Look closely and you’ll see they’re (mostly) in alphabetical order. And does it bug me that those four spices on the left aren’t the same brand as all the others? You bet it does. But McCormick just doesn’t make those spices in this line of bottles, so I’m out of luck.

Anyway, the point I’m getting to is, while sometimes this level of organization can be indicative of a mental condition, sometimes it can also be really helpful when your dietary lifestyle requires so much more cooking and meal planning than most people’s.


Witness, for example, my collection of baking mixes. Once I’ve already got all the ingredients out for making waffles, or bread, or whathaveyou, it takes virtually no extra time at all to scoop out a second, third, or even fourth dose of everything into little plastic containers on the side. Then a week later, when I’m flustered at the idea that it’s already time to make muffins again, I remember with joy that half the work is already done! Even if you’re not baking as often as I am, the dry ingredients will keep in the pantry just as well mixed together as they do separately, so why not?

This is actually a pretty diverse collection for me right now; usually you’d see more duplicates of the staples in my cabinet. The teff bread is a new experiment (just using my standard bread recipe, but substituting teff flour,) so we’ll see how that one turns out some afternoon when I’m feeling adventurous.


But here’s where the real neurosis kicks in. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the left half of my refrigerator. (Don’t you just love my frog pen-holder? So do I.) This is like the Gutenburg Bible of meal planning. I have a little magnet for every meal and side our family routinely eats, and I just pull whatever I want out of the main collection in the middle, and lay it out in the weekly schedule above.


This is helpful from a general meal-planning standpoint of course, in the sense that I have to know what I’m making when I go buy groceries. But the real reason this system works for me is because I have all my options laid out in front of me at all times. I have a big problem with inspiration in the kitchen — like the proverbial woman who stands in her closet saying “I have nothing to wear,” I can stand in a kitchen chock full of groceries and have no idea what to make with them. I’ve had great recipes fall off my radar for months at a time, because I just forgot about them. Now, instead of having to flip through my entire recipe box every week, I can take everything in with a quick glance. What’s more, when I move stuff down out of the week again, I put it at the bottom of the stack, so the items at the top are always the ones I haven’t made in awhile. It’s important to rotate your product!

But where, you may ask, did I get a magnetic poetry kit of my own recipe box? Why, I made it myself! Avery makes these great magnetic paper sheets, ready to load right into the printer. It’s $10 for 5 pages, which seems like a lot per page, but I used just a little over half of one page to print everything I needed for this project. Rather than try to run weird sizes of paper through my printer, I cut the rest of the remaining page into blank strips, and now when a new recipe comes along, I just handwrite a magnet for it. I also have a useful little marker for “New Recipe” and “New Side” for the schedule, so if the recipe’s a dud I haven’t wasted any magnetic paper on it.


Since school lunches are kind of a different beast altogether, I color-coded all those standard items in green and keep them organized down the right hand side by food group, so it’s easier to be sure the kids have a balanced lunchbox.

In a few more years I’m hoping I can get them to start helping to make their own lunches, and when that time comes I’m thinking I’ll reprint all the lunch choices in a bigger font and tell the kids they can pick whatever they want as long as they get one item from each group.

The magnet paper is great for other things too — memorable business cards, little school fundraiser items, picture puzzles… I don’t know about you, but there’s no limit to the number of things I can stick to my fridge.

Happy Organizing!










8 comments to Organization

  • xoxoxoBruce

    Brilliant. I was wondering how you keep it all straight, with such a busy schedule.
    I made seven, day-of-the-week magnets for the fridge, when Dad was in the throes of Alzheimer’s. Mom kept using them after he was gone.

  • mrschaits

    I do this in a calendar, but I haven’t gotten back to it now that we are GF (have always been dairy free). New to GF and am so thankful that I stumbled across this site and discovered that Tings and Veggie Booty are “legal” in our house again. I’ll be back for more.

  • Free Range Pixels

    I’m in love.


    So clear. So tidy. So organized.

    Oh my.

  • mrschaits

    Question, what flour do you find best for subbing out in “regular” recipes? I am making latkes (potato pancakes) for the extended family next week so they will be GF. The recipe uses 1/4 cup of flour for 1 1/2 # of shredded potatoes. I’m thinking of using brown rice flour because a bit of added crunch would be ok but do you suggest a different kind? I am going to do a test run but Eli will be crushed if I tell him I”m making latkes and they are inedible.

  • TheGFCFLady

    Brown or white rice flour would probably be your safest bet in this case. They are the blandest in flavor, and with only 1/4 cup being used in the recipe, it doesn’t need to do any heavy lifting consistency-wise. But if you find they aren’t sticking together like they normally do when you make your test batch, try using a blend of 6 parts rice flour, 1 part potato starch, and 1 part tapioca starch for a more typical all-purpose GF flour blend.

  • mrschaits

    Thanks for your advice. I used all rice flour–the recipe I have has you add back in the potato starch once you grate the potatoes so I didn’t think I needed the tapioca starch. Now that this recipe worked I’m tackling waffles next (your version 2). Hope you had a nice turkey day.

  • stephanietodd

    How do you stay so organized???? Im a stay at home mom and my house in shambles, laundry up to my ears, and Im drowning. any advice on how to get it all done, take care of my 4 and 1 year olds and do gfcf for my son! Also, does your entire family eat this way, or only your son? My 1 year old daughter is about to transition away from formula so Im trying to decide what to do about milk, etc.. I appreciate what you have done you’re my mommy hero!! Stephanie

  • TheGFCFLady

    Believe me, it was born out of necessity. It was get organized or drown, as you say. I took the entire house GFCF, because aside from the fact that my son was a master at hunting down the tiniest crumb of gluten-y bread off the floor, I was just not up to cooking two entire sets of meals. There was some complaining at first from the rest of the household, for sure, but they’ve gotten used to it (and I’ve gotten better at it, too!) I believe we’re all healthier now because of it. As for milk, we’re big fans of almond milk around here. It’s fortified with calcium, and the older kids didn’t even realize I had switched until they happened to see the container one day.

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